November 15, 2008: More than 40 representatives from global conservation organizations in 15 countries met at Dhulikhel near Kathmandu, Nepal, to create a framework for better management of mountain transboundary protected areas, especially through development of connecting corridors which will provide better opportunities for adaptation and response to climate change.
IUCN (the International Union for Conservation of Nature), ICIMOD, and WWF Nepal organised a workshop on mountain protected areas and connectivity conservation in Dhulikhel near Kathmandu, Nepal from November 10 to 14, 2008, with some 40 experts from all over the world to discuss the conservation corridor approach. As explained by Dr Graeme Worboys, Vice Chair of IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas (Mountains Biome), the principal purpose of the workshop was to facilitate the Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) Programme of Work on Protected Areas (PoWPA), and in particular its targets for transboundary protected areas and for connectivity conservation.
Dr Madhav Karki, ICIMOD’s Deputy Director General – Programmes, welcomed the participants at ICIMOD headquarters in Lalitpur on November 10th remarking that “ICIMOD is privileged to be part of the organizing committee and part of the workshop which is addressing very important themes on transboundary protected areas, the CBD, and climate change, all of which are very relevant to ICIMOD’s current medium-term action plan (2008-12)”.
Over the five days, participants used global case studies to analyze effective ways to protect mountain environments. They designed a number of innovative connectivity conservation tools that can be used around the world to preserve and protect mountains and their biodiversity. They noted how quickly biodiversity is lost when large landscapes are fragmented, and emphasized the need to create connectivity conservation corridors that link transboundary protected areas in mountain regions, especially in view of the challenges posed by climate change. The participants developed a conceptual framework for connectivity conservation management, and prepared an action statement on critical connectivity corridors for individual nations.
In the concluding session on 14th November, Dr Graeme Worboys and Dr Andreas Schild, Director General ICIMOD, again emphasized the need to integrate protected areas into the greater landscape in which they are embedded.
Climate change, globalization and overexploitation, population growth and others are leading to an alarming loss of biodiversity and habitats in mountain areas across the globe. The world’s people rely heavily on the freshwater, resources, and goods and services that mountains provide, services that are increasingly threatened. Protected areas can play an important role in combating the loss of biodiversity and habitats, but many of the existing areas are relatively small and isolated from one another and, especially in mountain areas, may be separated by international boundaries. They do not provide the connectivity needed to enable animals and plants to migrate and adapt to changing conditions. Now global initiatives like the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) are tackling this problem by encouraging development of ‘conservation corridors’ to form large-scale landscape systems of interconnected protected areas across boundaries, and encouraging countries to develop effective landscape management approaches to help reduce biodiversity loss.